No Minister

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IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?

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Student’s of history will know that the Russian mobilisation on 30 July 1914 was the catalyst for WW1. 2 days later Germany responded with its own mobilisation and declaration of war on Russia, On 2 August Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium. The next day Great Britain declared war on Germany with Sir Edward Grey (British Foreign Secretary) reportedly saying ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime’.

Is it too dramatic to suggest that with Putin’s declaration of partial mobilisation we are seeing history repeating itself. I think not. Putin has backed himself into a corner and has been forced to come out swinging … that along with his less than subtle references to the use of nuclear weapons is raising the temperature to boiling point. The problem for Putin and the West is that a diplomatic solution (if that were ever possible) is clearly now off the table. Putin has to win otherwise his presidency is at risk and he knows that. I guess he is counting on the continued domestic turmoil in the US in the lead up to the mid-term elections to give him space to act but he shouldn’t necessarily count on that.

We certainly live in dangerous times.

I’m sure Andrei and those Russian trolls working out of 57 Messines Road will have an entirely different view of developments … it’s the West’s fault and Russia’s special military operation is going entirely to plan … LOL.

No, this doesn’t foretell my return to NM as a regular blogger but I did say I retained the right to occasionally post on matters of great importance and this, by any measure, meets that criteria. One slip- up and nuclear war is in the offing.

Written by The Veteran

September 22, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Russia

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CHARLIE AND CHARLES

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I suspect my old friend 38168 Staff Sergeant Charlie Fraser is looking down from on high and saying ‘that’s my boy’. Charlie was a proud Scot. He was our signals platoon sergeant in Malaysia 1967-69 and during that tour he also saw service in Vietnam. After leaving the military he retired to Kaitaia with his wife Gwneth.

His relationship with the royal family makes for a fascinating story. In 1952 and aged 9 (I think) and living in the little town of Balleter some 11k from Balmoral he was called into the Headmaster’s office at the school he was attending to be told that his time there was at a end and there was a big car waiting for him outside to take him to the castle (where his mother worked). He arrived there to be ushered into the Queen’s presence who spoke to him about this and that and a short time later told that with his mother’s agreement he was going to live at Balmoral and be a companion to Charles. Although there was an age difference the Queen thought it would be desirable for Charles to have an older ‘commoner’ playmate. And so it happened.

At the end of the Balmoral season Charlie was kept on. He was given a first class train ticket to London to be met at the station by a royal limousine and transported to Buck House where he remained until Charles started school at Cheam. I have seen some delightful photographs of Charlie in formal pages dress (breeches et al) attending Charles but he was always very circumspect in talking about the private time he spent with him.

It was at Buck House that Charlie met Gwneth who was employed there as a domestic. With Charles now at school Charlie asked to be let go and promptly joined the Royal Marines where he served with distinction until transferring to the NZ Army. It was with a smile on his face that Charlie told the story that as a very young RM recruit and on his first day in uniform he proudly wore his Coronation medal to be hauled up by some grizzled old drill sergeant and told to ‘get it off clown or I’ll rip it off’. Charlie’s response … yes sergeant but you had better inform the Queen who gave it to me personally. Charlie 1 vs sergeant 0.

Charlie is long gone but we see Gwneth occasionally at Vietnam veteran reunions.

Written by The Veteran

September 17, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Britain

Tagged with ,

GUEST POST

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With the kind permission of Adolf I’m back for this one-off offering. Tony Williams was a subaltern in our Singapore battalion during my last tour there. He was a well regarded young officer. He went on to complete a number of operational tours in Timor and the Solomon Islands as well as serving with the NZ Special Air Service (NZSAS). And now at the tender age of 68 he is walking from Cape Reinga to the Bluff hoping to raise $1m for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Boarders) in support of their worldwide work and especially their work in the Ukraine.

Tony has a support team comprising family and friends including ex military personnel traveling with him in a number of camper-vans. He is walking six days a week looking to average 30k per day with Fridays off as a rest day. He started his journey last weekend and right now he is half way through the Kerikeri-Kawakawa leg, All going well and its estimated he will reach Bluff late November.

You can follow his journey by clicking on his Facebook page (above). Should you wish to donate to this great cause go to www.walknz4msf.com

There are many among us who talk the talk … the really good among us walk the walk. Tony is one of the latter.

Written by The Veteran

September 3, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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AU REVOIR – GOODBYE – AND (JUST FOR ROSSCO) HEI KONEI RA, E NEHO RA

with 15 comments

For the reasons I have shared with my colleague co-bloggers I am ending my association with No Minister as an active blogger although I do reserve the right to pen the occasional comment should the mood take me.

I thank Adolf for his invitation to join the team. If I recall correctly my first post concerned the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets pre WW1 Russian four-engined commercial airliner, later bomber. I’ve always been interested in aviation and this aircraft with its fully enclosed cabin complete with lighting, heating and even its own toilet was a couple of decades ahead of its time. My posts always reflected my centre/right view of life and I make no apology for that. I align with the classic definition of Gladstonian liberalism which espoused limited government expenditure and low taxation, balanced budgets, stress on self-help and freedom of choice along with free trade, little government intervention in the economy and equality of opportunity through institutional reform.

I have enjoyed the sparing and the interaction with commentators. I particularly acknowledge three old friends … Old Curmudgeon and his generous hospitality (which I will continue to enjoy), the Realist (he and I go back nigh on 40 years) and Cassandra who I have known even longer when he was in Bob Gurr’s Battalion as a newly minted 2Lt fresh out of Sandhurst and where I had reached the exalted heights of Private (two star).

To all … May your God go with you … with apologies to Dave Allen

Written by The Veteran

August 28, 2022 at 4:57 pm

Posted in New Zealand

24 HOURS IN POLITICS A LONG TIME … A WEEK AN ETERNITY

with 6 comments

Been in Christchurch this week doing God’s work. Won’t bore you with the saga around my getting home … suffice to say I got through much like the ‘Message to Garcia’.

Come Tuesday Dr Sharma will be expelled from the Labour caucus. I think there is also an even chance that Labour will invoke the Waka jumping legislation to force his exit from parliament. Big call that but Sharma has done the unforgivable … he has embarrassed the PM and thrown mud at her by claiming that Labour MPs had been schooled by the PM’s office on the need to circumvent the OIA and how to do it … and one suspects there’s more to come. Clearly Sharma, while exhibiting a touching naivete about the realities of life as a backbencher, is not about to go quietly and one wonders if the next thing we’re about to see is an application for a judicial review of the decision to suspend him from caucus alleging a breach of natural justice given that it is now confirmed there was a secret meeting held the night before the caucus meeting (to which Sharma was not invited) which determined the outcome of the caucus meeting which was a fait accompli.

One thing more … Sharma, unlike many Labour caucus drones, actually has a calling to fall back on. He doesn’t depend on his parliamentary salary for a livelihood. Labour doesn’t own him and clearly Sharma doesn’t see himself as owing anything to Labour. Whatever, Hamilton West will now be firmly in National’s sights.

And then to cap it all off the news that the Crown is to appeal the decision in the NZ First Foundation case. One wonders if David Parker as the Attorney-General was briefed on the matter and gave his consent (either by commission or omission). I’m sure WRP will be have a view on this. Clearly there’s more water to flow under the bridge and this will continue to be a millstone around Winston First’s neck.

Written by The Veteran

August 20, 2022 at 4:43 pm

Posted in NZ Labour Party, NZ Politics

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ON SHARMA

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I’m not sure newly elected MPs really know what they’re letting themselves in for. Parliament is a heavily structured environment where seniority counts. Newbie MPs are a little like year nine students. They very quickly learn that they’re not going to change the world overnight … for the first term you keep your head down and build your creds within your party. Can’t speak for other parties but certainly within National newly elected MPs tend to bind together, forming friendships and providing collegial support to each other.

The old maxim remains true. There are four classes of MPs. First, the Executive … they wield the power, collectively and individually. Next those who form the shadow cabinet … waiting for their turn at the table. Under them comes opposition backbenchers … all fun and no great responsibility … they get some slack. And last of all government backbenchers … at the beck and call of the party whip and voting cannon fodder and you rebel against that at your peril. A recipe for frustration.

And that is where the good Dr Sharma has ended up. Not sure there is any coming back for him. Within his party he is damaged goods and I suspect Jacinda ain’t into damaged goods … her entreaties about the need for kindness notwithstanding. Not sure though that Labour would necessarily want a bi-election at this point in the electoral cycle especially given that Sharma’s LRC appears to be standing solidly behind him in support. That night change though.

Written by The Veteran

August 16, 2022 at 11:19 am

Posted in New Zealand

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HATE TO ADMIT IT BUT ANDREI HAS IT ABOUT RIGHT

with 15 comments

when he opines that the US political system is near broken. By that I’m not referring to democracy per se but to the fact that the political discourse has become so toxic at both a state and federal level that solving the real issues that beset the US has taken second place to OTT partisan political posturing where playing the man and not the ball holds pride of place. In saying that I can readily concede there has always been an element of the that but events over the past two decades have taken that to a new level and I think Americans are all the poorer for that.

A week in politics is a long time, a month an eternity. A month ago you would have been a brave person not to concede that the Republicans were odds on favorites to win back control of both the House and the Senate in the mid-term elections. Now I think all bets are off. There is a huge battle going on within the Republican Party between ‘ever trumpers’ and the more moderate faction that the Rosscos of this world would label RINOs. Problem with that is that 24% of those identifying themselves as Republicans also classify themselves as Moderates or Liberals (Gallup). That’s a big number. You add into the equation the 49% of Independents who classify themselves as Moderates or Liberals (again Gallup) remembering that for both parties winning the Independent vote is crucial to their chances of success and on any SWOT analysis the danger for the Republicans becomes clear.

And that danger is enhanced should Trump decide to stand again for the Presidency and one suspects the FBI raid almost makes that a certainty … his bruised ego will ‘trump’ common sense and remembering always that Trump sees himself bigger than any political party. Trump will stand and his candidacy will split the Republican Party and splinter the vote. The Democrats will laugh all the way back to the White House.

Andrei has it about right. The US political system is near broken.

Written by The Veteran

August 14, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Posted in US Politics

TWAS GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE ABs

with 11 comments

but words fail me so I won’t. I’ll leave it to others.

Written by The Veteran

August 7, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Sport.

Tagged with

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

with 5 comments

With the news that Alex Jones, far right/alternative right talk show host and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, has been convicted in court and ordered to pay USD4.1m in compensatory damages and a further USD45.2m in punitive damages to families of students killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre after he claimed the whole thing never happened and was a hoax perpetrated by opponents of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms).

Jones makes many right wing commentators look tame. He has variously claimed in respect of the Waco siege that David Koresh and his followers were peaceful people murdered by the Attorney-General and government officials and that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were not responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.

He also claimed that the September 11 attack was a false flag operation orchestrated by the US government designed to scare people into giving up their liberty in exchange for safety and is one of any number of conspiracy theorists to claim that the 1969 Moon landing never happened at all.

To cap it all Jones was one of the speakers at the Lafayettee Square Park Rally immediately preceding the storming of the Capitol by ‘ever Trumpers’ determined to prevent the Vice-President from certifying the result of the 2020 Presidential election. He has blood on his hands.

Many would claim that Antifa is a blot on the US political landscape. They are and so are the Alex Jones’ of the hard right. My politics professor was right when he said the hard right and the hard left are joined at the hip.

Written by The Veteran

August 6, 2022 at 5:40 pm

Posted in US Politics

ARE THE REPUBLICANS ABOUT TO SNATCH DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY?

with 10 comments

The latest Monmouth poll makes for interesting reading. It now shows that 50% of voters prefer a Democrat Congress vs just 43% expressing a preference for the Republicans. That represents an 11% shift to the Democrats over the summer period May through August. It reinforces the trend registered in last weeks US Today/Suffolk Poll which had the Democrats leading in the generic ballot 44% vs 40% – up from a 40%/40% tie a month ago.

It seems to me that voters may have decoupled Biden’s performance (with his job rating at 38% approval vs 56% disapproval) from their view of how the Democrats and the Republicans stack up.

You add into the mix the specter of ‘Trumpism’ which is causing significant angst within the Republican Party along with the Supreme Courts reversal of Row vs Wade which has clearly galvanized Democrats at the grassroots level and what many had seen as the Republicans steamrolling the Democrats to take control of both Houses of Congress is looking less likely.

Still, 24 hours in politics is a long time and the 96 days to the mid-term elections an eternity. Much could change.

I’m sure Tom H will have a view on this.

Written by The Veteran

August 4, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Posted in US Politics